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Updated: 7:06 p.m. Florida Atlantic is expected to announce Thursday that it will leave the Sun Belt Conference and join Conference USA.

Originally published on 11/28/2012

by Chuck King

A Sun Belt Conference source said Florida Atlantic will join Conference USA, confirming multiple reports.

The Owls have been in the Sun Belt Conference since 2005 in football but are expected to join Conference USA in 2014, reported. FAU has called a press conference for 11 a.m. on Thursday when the decision is expected to be announced.

FAU stands to benefit financially from a move to C-USA, which will be needed to off-set possible higher travel costs. The Owls' share of television revenues alone could bring an extra $2 million to the school. Sun Belt schools received less than $20,000 from their deal this year.

According to published reports C-USA signed a $48 million TV deal with Fox that took effect with the start of the 2011-12 season and runs through 2016. C-USA also has a deal with CBS Sports Network that runs through 2015-16.

C-USA also boasts seven bowl tie ins - more than double that of the Sun Belt. C-USA schools currently have slots in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Military Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl and the TicketCity Bowl.

FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun did not respond to an interview request, instead issuing a state ment that said “At this time, we are monitoring the situation. I can’t comment on the hypothetical.”

Founded in 1994, Conference USA entered the 2012-13 season with 12 members: UAB, Central Florida, East Carolina, Houston, Marshall, Memphis, Rice, Southern Methodist, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Tulsa and Texas-El Paso.

Of those, UCF, Houston, Memphis and SMU are scheduled to depart for the Big East following this academic year. C-USA replaced those four schools by adding six new ones for the 2013 season. Last spring Florida International and North Texas announced they were leaving the Sun Belt to play in C-USA for the 2013-14 season. C-USA also added Charlotte, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion and Texas-San Antonio for that season.

FIU President Mark Rosenberg amd Athletic Director Pete Garcia made calls on FAU's behalf to C-USA officials.

Earlier this week, East Carolina and Tulane announced they would be leaving C-USA and moving to the Big East for the 2014-5 season. FAU and fellow Sun Belt Conference school Middle Tennessee would be replacing those schools.

Unlike the Sun Belt, which doesn't offer men's soccer, Conference USA sponsors every sport in which FAU currently fields a team except men's swimming. With the addition of FIU, MTSU and FAU Conference USA may now be able to offer that sport, too.


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